What makes Aboriginal Art so Valuable?

Photo of author

By Kaleem Ullah

Since the beginning, art has been an exceptional depiction of human expression and experience. Even before the invention of language, humans used art to record their experiences, and much of this art has helped us understand life as it was. Presently, art carries as much aesthetic value as it does information. While many decide to invest in modern abstract art, few recognise the significance of aboriginal art in Australia. Attending an indigenous art auction can be daunting without knowing its value. Read on to understand the roots of Aboriginal Australian Art.

What is Aboriginal Art?

Over 80,000 years ago, the Australian natives used art without a formal language. This prehistoric art is rich in narratives and is a direct account of the origin of Australian culture. Ancient Aboriginal art is a form of rock art, and aboriginals would use pigmented clay (ochres) to illustrate their experiences. Eventually, Aboriginal art also extended to surfaces like bark, sand, and dirt.

Presently, artists from the Aboriginal community continue to work on contemporary Aboriginal artwork that carries immense value. These artworks find themselves part of an exhibition and eventually in an auction.

What gives Aboriginal Art its Value?


Aboriginal art has deep roots in Australian culture. The art itself originated from a period when humans could only rely on nature for their needs. Contemporary Aboriginal artists preserve the essence and spirit of this art form in their works. Moreover, they share their stories and their culture through their art. Many artists use historical stories as art subjects, imbuing their art with deep meaning and historical significance.


A meaningful story exists in each piece of art, either related to an Aboriginal family, their lives, or the community. This storytelling aspect of the art makes it expressively unique and rich in meaning. Moreover, the raw beauty of the art itself adds immensely to its aesthetic value.

Earlier artists remained unexposed to formal education, making their work more raw and valuable.

Before an artist creates a piece related to a story, they require permission from the originator. This permission is necessary before using symbols unique to different Aboriginal communities. Most early artists also needed to seek approval from their elders before depicting passed down stories and sacred teachings.

The raw cultural value present in these stories makes the art invaluable.

Varying Tones

Aboriginal artwork has varying tones that speak volumes of its origin. For example, Northern Aboriginal artists love muted earth tones, while Western Desert artists use more vibrant pigments in their work.

Invaluable Subjects

Many humans consider machinery to be revolutionary. However, it plays a minimal role in the lives of these artists. Most Aboriginal artworks narrate stories of cultural landmarks, such as discovering new arts, foods, and herbs. The beauty of this nature-centric art knows no bounds.

What Decides the Value of Aboriginal Art Pieces

The value of Aboriginal artwork comes from its artist. The identity and age of the artist play a crucial role in valuation, with works from older artists carrying more value. Documentation and artist biographies also add to a piece’s price tag at an indigenous art auction. The region from where the art originates also contributes to the price tag.

Buying Aboriginal Artwork

Authentication of Aboriginal art pieces mainly depends on available documentation and evaluation of techniques. Attending a verified indigenous art auction is one way to ensure that you are investing in authentic Aboriginal artwork. Some evaluate the materials used to authenticate artwork. While most early Aboriginal artwork exists on bark and other tableware materials, contemporary artists have taken to the canvas.